Spousal Support

Seeking Spousal Maintenance or Alimony? You Need a Dallas Spousal Support Lawyer

When a Texas couple divorces, one of the first considerations is spousal support. Also called alimony or spousal maintenance, spousal support is intended to allow the ex-spouse receiving the support to provide for their reasonable financial needs. Whether they are paying or receiving the support, divorcing spouses in Texas need to understand some basics of spousal support law.

A Dallas spousal support lawyer can provide the knowledge and advice you need. Divorce attorney Michael P. Granata stands ready to advise and represent those seeking favorable spousal support arrangements in Texas.

Who Can Obtain Spousal Support in Texas?

 Although either divorcing spouse may request spousal support, there is no presumption that either spouse will receive it. Instead, the spouse requesting support must meet certain legal requirements.

The most basic requirement is that the requesting spouse must need the support to meet his or her reasonable needs. These needs include such items as food, clothing, housing expenses, health care, transportation and childcare.

After demonstrating the need for spousal support, the requesting spouse must establish one of the four statutory bases for spousal support in Texas. A skilled Dallas spousal support lawyer can help you obtain the information needed at this level. Under the Texas Family Code, the statutory reasons for spousal support are as follows:

  • Married 10 Years: In addition to being married at least 10 years, the requesting spouse must (1) be unable to earn sufficient income and (2) have made diligent efforts to earn income or increase their earning capacity.
  • Family Violence: The act of violence must have been against the requesting spouse or their child. In addition, the divorce filing must have been within two years of the violent act. Finally, the act must have resulted in a conviction or deferred adjudication.
  • Disabled Spouse: The requesting spouse must suffer from a mental or physical disability that renders them unable to earn adequate income.
  • Disabled Child: The disabled child must be from the marriage. In addition, the disability must require substantial care from the requesting spouse, and the care must prevent that spouse from earning sufficient income.

If you have questions or concerns about the statute’s application to your specific situation, contact our Dallas spousal support lawyer.

How Much Spousal Support Will be Awarded?

In determining the amount of spousal maintenance to be awarded, the family law judge will consider the following factors: 

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The division of assets and debts between the spouses
  • Whether one parent will have primary custody or responsibility for the children
  • The earning power of each spouse
  • The health and age of the divorcing spouses
  • The contributions of a spouse as a homemaker or stay-at-home parent

The family law judge must also determine the length of time for the support payments. If the support request is on the basis of a 10-year marriage, the duration is limited. This limit is the amount of time needed for the spouse to obtain employment or learn appropriate skills to meet their financial needs (a maximum of three years).

Our Dallas Spousal Support Lawyer Breaks Down the Forms of Alimony in Texas

Texas law recognizes two types of spousal support in a divorce: contractual alimony and spousal maintenance. The first is based on an agreement between the parties while the second is subject to an order by the court. Your Dallas spousal support lawyer will help you identify which best suits your needs. 

Contractual Alimony

Contractual alimony is just what it sounds like: it is an agreement between the divorcing spouses regarding how much support one party will provide the other and how long that support will last. Often payments under a negotiated alimony agreement cease if the receiving party gets remarried or cohabitates with someone, and the agreement terminates if one of the parties dies.

With contractual alimony, once the parties come to an agreement, it can be incorporated into a final decree of divorce as long as the judge determines that the agreement is just and right.

Spousal Maintenance in Texas

Courts in Texas do not automatically order spousal support. In fact, under Texas law, the court assumes that spousal support or maintenance is not necessary. It is up to the spouse seeking support to overcome this assumption.

Overcoming the Presumption that Spousal Maintenance is Not Needed

In order to overcome this presumption that spousal maintenance is not needed, your Dallas spousal support lawyer must show that he or she has diligently tried to earn income to meet their basic needs or they have attempted to obtain the basic skills necessary to seek employment.

How Your Dallas Spousal Support Lawyer will Demonstrate the Need for Support

There are several circumstances that can prompt a court to order spousal maintenance. In general terms, these include instances where:

  • The spouse seeking support and/or the child of the marriage have been the victims of domestic violence perpetrated by the spouse from whom they are seeking support,
  • The spouses were married for ten years or longer, and the spouse seeking support is unable to pay for their own expenses,
  • The spouse seeking support has a physical or mental disability rendering them unable to earn enough income to provide for their own basic needs, or
  • The spouse seeking support has custody of the couple’s physically or mentally disabled child and caring for the child prevents them from earning an adequate living.

Factors the Court Will Consider when Ordering Spousal Maintenance

If the court determines that an order for maintenance is appropriate, the judge will determine how much support to award and for how long by looking at a variety of factors. These include each party’s financial resources, their employment skills and education, the length of the marriage, the age and health of the recipient spouse, as well as other factors such as whether there is a history of family violence or adultery.

Statutory Limits on Spousal Maintenance

Under Texas law, a court-ordered monthly spousal support payment cannot be more than $5,000 or 20% of the paying spouse’s average gross monthly income, whichever is less. While support can last up to ten years under certain circumstances, the court will always limit it to the shortest time it will take for the receiving party to become self-supporting.

How Dallas Spousal Support Lawyer Michael P. Granata Can Help

If you are facing spousal support issues in Texas, we can help. Call Michael P. Granata at 214-977-9050 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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Law Office of Michael P. Granata Turley Law Center, 6440 North Central Expressway, Suite 450, Dallas, Texas 75206
Email: mpg@dallasdivorcelawyer.com - Phone: 214-977-9050